Adsorption and desorption of chromium with humic acid coated iron oxide nanoparticles

  • Shilpa Gnanamuthu Singaraj
  • Biswanath MahantyEmail author
  • Darshan Balachandran
  • Anamika Padmaprabha
Research Article


Presence of carcinogenic chromium, i.e., Cr(VI), in different industrial effluents necessitates design and development of effective abatement technologies. Nanosorbent consisting of iron oxide nanoparticles functionalized with soil-derived humic acid was employed for removal of Cr(VI). The point of zero charge for both humic acid and nanoparticles as estimated from pH shift experiments was between pH 8 and 9. Adsorption isotherm from batch experiments at neutral pH followed Langmuir model with projected maximum adsorption capacities for humic acid coated nanoparticles (24.13 mg/g) much higher than its uncoated counterpart (2.82 mg/g). Adsorption was process very fast and kinetics could be described with pseudo-second-order model (R2 > 0.98), for both nanoparticles. High E4/E6 ratio of extracted humic acid and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy of coated nanoparticles (20–100 nm) indicated enrichment of hydroxyl, carboxylic, and aliphatic groups on surface leading for the better adsorption. Humic acid coated and uncoated nanoparticles regenerated with EDTA, NaOH, urea, Na2CO3, and NaCl treatments retained 35.90–59.67 and 26.37–36.28% of their initial adsorption capacities, respectively, in 2nd cycle. Experimental controls (virgin nanoparticles subjected to an identical regenerating environment) revealed irreversible surface modification as the cause for loss of their adsorption capacities.


Adsorption Chromium Humic acid Iron oxide nanoparticle Isotherm Regeneration 



SGS thanks the management of KITS for extended support during her project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6164_Fig9_ESM.png (629 kb)

(PNG 629 kb)

Analysis of nanoparticles using DLS showing intensity distribution profile

11356_2019_6164_MOESM1_ESM.tif (187 kb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 186 kb)
ESM 2 (JPG 182 kb) FTIR analysis of Humic acid-coated iron-oxide nanoparticle before and after chromium adsorption
ESM 3 (JPG 172 kb) Kinetics for the adsorption of Cr(VI) onto INP and HINP, (a) removal from aqueous phase as a function of time and (b) adopting the pseudo-second-order model


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyKarunya Institute of Technology & SciencesCoimbatoreIndia

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